Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, Baby

On the flight to Cincinnati, the plane is not at all full. The whole row of emergency exit seats behind me is empty. As the doors are closing, a blond girl runs back and plops into the seat by the window behind me. I'm dying to stretch out, so I pick up my things and move back a row, across the aisle from her. We smile at each other, happy to have this extra space.

The flight attendant announces that those sitting in the emergency exit rows must be willing and able to assist crew members in the event of an emergency. The girl and I eye eachother and she dissolves into a puddle of giggles.

The flight is smooth, but as we're getting ready to land the wheels lower with a loud CRACK! The girl across the aisle yells, "SHIT!"
She works her hand between the seats in front of her and says, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" Then I hear her ask, "Will you mind holding my hand? I'm petrified of landings." I lean forward and see a young guy sitting in front of her. He doesn't look bad. Apparently he takes her hand. She explains, "When I was 10, I was in a plane that almost crashed when it landed, and since then I can't help it–I'm always afraid of landings."

When the plane hits the ground, she retracts her hand and says as if coming to her senses: "I'm sorry. I really should have sat beside someone. But this is a great way to make connections!"

He turns around. "Are you from Cincinnati?"
"No, Chattanooga. I'm in the mental health field. Have you just come from visiting your family? Is Cincinnati your final destination?"
"No. I'm on my way to Chicago."
"CHICAGO! Why aren't you on a direct flight from Chattanooga to Chicago?"
Because this way I met you, I'm thinking he's thinking.
He mentions something about the exorbitant cost of the direct flight.
"That's INSANE!"
"Are you visiting your family?" he asks.
"No. I've decided to go to Arizona. I have family in Nevada, but my ex-husband will be there, and you can imagine how interesting that would be!" She dissolves into giggles again. Then to nobody in particular: "I have a long layover here. Four hours."

The fasten seat belt sign is no longer illuminated. The guy leans forward and turns around. I look at his hand, hoping I won't see a ring on his finger. I stay seated; she and he are standing. She asks me, "Do you want to go in front of me?"
"No!" I grin.
She smiles. "I can't wait to hit the bar. A vodka & tonic is just what I need." Her voice carries.

We file out into the terminal. First she walks behind him; then I see them walking together and talking; then I notice that he walks on ahead. But before I go right to catch the shuttle to Terminal B, I catch a glimpse of them walking together again. Here's hoping they arranged a quick Merry Christmas.